Friday, September 18, 2015

Paranoia Clearinghouse: Part One

In the course of my professional duties this week I came across News With Views: Where Reality Shatters Illusion. This would be alt-alt media, with lots of paranoid views.  It is mostly right-wing, Christian America stuff, but there is plenty of alt-medicine, Monsanto, Bush Family in New World Order, anti-corporate expose as well. Explanations of the dollar bill, that sort of thing. Energy vortices are usually a hippie thing, aren’t they? Yet in the main, it's trends strongly to endtimes, government overreach, and what-are-they-teaching-in-the-schools-these-days stuff. I've seen crazier. But it's got variety.

Some few of these authors seem to be not just paranoid in approach but specifically delusional in a personal way that seems worrisome.  Yet a lot of it isn’t really paranoid, but more monomaniacal, or merely rigid, or over-willing to believe alternative explanations. As with the occult, the desire to know what others do not, or to embrace an idea because it would be so cool if it were true, is powerful worldwide.  And there’s plenty of it that’s fairly reasonable, even if I don’t agree with it myself.  Most importantly, many of the writers have dozens of opinionated but non-paranoid columns, with the strangeness only leaking out in the occasional sentence or rare column. I didn’t encounter anything anti-Semitic or anti-Catholic, but perhaps I just didn’t click on the correct columnists. So if you want to have a bookmark to provide examples whenever you need to illustrate strange things the paranoids on the right say, this is one. Because it lacks some topics I wouldn’t expect it to be one-stop shopping, however.

If you poke around long enough you detect that there are ongoing arguments with other sites or groups, which upon inspection seem to be similarly paranoid but with different focus. But this site seems to be the cheerful one that is accused more than accusing, only shutting someone down if they get out of hand. It’s one of the reasons I find Southern Poverty Law Center to be more than a bit paranoid in itself. Every time it discovers a new group it perceives this as an increase in the hatred and dangerousness in the country. But it’s a kaleidoscope – the intense suspiciousness of these folks is a huge obstacle to their creating any sort of coordinated action. They keep splitting off, or merely drifting away from one group in order to join or set up another. (SPLC apparently regards this as an additional danger, as they take it as an example of how deeply connected and networked these groups are. People chart these connections.  Just in case. See also Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.)

I'm using an essay from this site as a jumping-off point to discuss varieties of paranoia in Part Two.


Roy Lofquist said...

The major difference between the SPLC and these groups is that the SPLC is in it for the money.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Great link. Yeah, $42M is a lot of coin. I'm betting all these tiny groups together don't bring that in.

Donna B. said...

I realize your post is focused, but surely you don't believe there aren't "left wing" conspiracy theorists also.

Though... they overlap. Big Pharma, for one. Chemtrails, probably. It's been almost 10 years since I waded into Democratic Underground, but it was chock-full of conspiracy theories then.

I think one of the largest overlap subjects is vaccines. The reasoning may differ slightly -- right wing is government can't tell me what to do or bodies are sacrosanct and prayer will heal... while left wing is (ironically) I will decide what is best for my children and not allow big government, big pharma (corporations!) or mainstream doctors to tell me what to do.

Loony-tunes nutcases can go either way politically, and they often have a smidgeon of truth in their conspiracies.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

bsking has commented that vaccines has a left-right break that has a regional, even community-by-community breakdown.

Yes, I may get to some of the left-wing ones, but not in Part Two.

Roy Lofquist said...


Not only do they bring in $41 Million, their net assets are almost $300 million. They certainly don't spend all they bring in.

Sam L. said...

I started receiving SPLC donation requests after I contributed to a group's donation request (and not since then); SPLC stopped after I returned one of their requests with a note that I considered THEM a hate group.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think you can detect conspiracies on the internet by reading posts written in the English language?

That's like trying to learn how to fight in H2H by focusing on finger tip death strikes, and missing 90% of the rest of the body movements required.